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OnTV Today's Date:

Stitch: The Movie
Rating: G
Release Date: August 26, 2003
Run Time: approximately 64 minutes
Ten-second Rundown: Experiment 626, aka Stitch, has to rescue his "cousins," the other 625 experiments, from the evil Doctor Hamsterveil.

  • Guide To Experiments
  • Trivia Game
  • Set Top Game
  • Music Video From "Jump 5"
  • Tech Specs: Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby

    By all rights, Stitch: The Movie should have sucked, if not outright smacked of evil. First off, Lilo & Stitch didn't really cry out for a sequel, and such direct-to-video projects usually seem like just an extra grab for your cash. And as has been the case for too many of these Disney d-t-v DVDs, it's really just a pilot for an upcoming animated series. Compounding its crimes: it rips off Pokemon.

    But then, Stitch breaks the rules and gets away with it all the time. His "solo" video release (Lilo really is just as important) proves that these characters aren't just charming - they're worth seeing again.

    Ironic, then, that Disney should see fit to release a sequel to a popular 2D animated film on the heels of shutting down their 2D feature division. If the original proved anything, it's that audiences still care most about story and heart, and Lilo & Stitch had both.

    Despite a budget knock-down and an obvious set-up for a daily strip, this sequel still has the quirky warmth. All but one of the original film's voice actors return, and the writing, by Jess Winfield and Robert Gannaway, has the same loopy humor. (Though Lilo's naming of an electricity-generating experiment as "Sparks" seems too on the nose. But this makes it easier for kids to remember the many, many pocket monsters - ahem - "experiments" of Jumba.)

    Many sequences look like a theatrical release might have been intended. Or maybe they just still had the backgrounds lying around, because almost everything in Hawaii has the same beautiful watercolor effect. It covers the slightly stiffer movement of Lilo and friends, the only thing that betrays the television origins.

    Until they get to Gantu's ship, that is, because every sequence there has the simpler line work that says "get it done quickly, and vaguely enough so we can reuse some of it." The villain of the piece (and possibly of the series), Dr. Hamsterveil, has a design that reflects the sloppier work. He also claims to look like a hamster, gets mistaken for a gerbil a lot, but really looks like a rabbit with a long swishy tail. What kind of thinking is that?

    At least he's funny. But he still stands out against the previous characters. In that, Hamsterveil is not alone, as Stitch's older "cousins" all look more at home in a child's anime than a Disney film.

    Despite its being a launching pad, though, the movie works. It's not piecemeal episodes strung together, like a lot of DVD sequels. Gannaway and Winfield constructed a solid story that leaves on an open note, setting Lilo and her "pet" on a local quest, but still has a satisfying conclusion.

    And if you find yourself humming "gotta catch 'em all…" instead of the Jump 5 Hawaiian song over the end credits, you're not to blame. It's all part of the insidious plan to get you watching the Disney Channel's Adventures of Lilo & Stitch. Because I have a four-year-old, that plan worked like a charm. Disney even thoughtfully provides a sheet to check off when you've seen an episode featuring certain Experiments.

    Hmm. Maybe this was evil after all.

    Derek McCaw


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